It all started when Russian fashion influencer and Buro 24/7 co-founder Miroslava Duma posted on her Instagram Story — a picture of a bouquet of roses and a greeting card at the start of Paris Haute Couture this week. The card was from friend and Russian couture designer Ulyana Sergeenko, and it read: “To my Ni**as in Paris.” The response was swift and unrelenting. The internet retaliated with followers and consumers flooding both Duma and Sergeenko’s social media platforms with shock and disgust.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell voiced her outrage by reposting the image with the words: “Seriously?! Why would you a) write this b) post this…this better not be real!” Fashion influencer Bryanboy, too, posted it on his Instagram and captioned it: “Racism and ignorance is real. Just sayin’! It’s 2018, people!”
As Bryanboy also predicted in the post (see above), both Duma and Sergeenko issued apologies that no one felt were sincere or genuine enough. “I sincerely apologize for my regrettable Instagram story that went out,” Duma wrote on the social media site. “The phrase referenced is from a Kanye West and Jay Z song by the same title. The word is utterly offensive, and I regret promoting it and am very sorry. I deeply respect people of all backgrounds and detest racism or discrimination of any kind. My organizations and I are committed to our core values of inclusion and diversity.”
A few days after the original post, a 2012 video surfaced where Duma is recorded making offensive homophobic and transphobic comments about Bryanboy and transgender model Andreja Pejic. During a Q&A, an audience member asked Duma her opinion on Bryanboy wearing womenswear and Pejic modeling women’s swimsuits and whether she thought it was “normal.”
“Honestly, I dislike that,” she replied. “Because somewhere, on TV or in a magazine, a little boy could see it. And that boy wouldn’t understand it correctly, wouldn’t react correctly. And I think a certain kind of censorship and refined culture is needed here.”
She went on to say that she would never feature anyone like Pejic or Bryanboy on Buro 24/7, calling them both “weird people.” “Thank God there aren’t that many of them!” she continued. “We’re very concerned about the beauty and purity of the images we publish on Buro 24/7.”
Bryanboy responded by posting the video on Instagram with: “Racism and bigotry is never cool. I guess I’m too weird.” On Wednesday, Duma followed up with another apology, saying she’s “deeply ashamed” by the comments she made and that “the person I was six years ago is not who I am today.”
But it’s Pejic who spun the hate into a lesson on acceptance and tolerance, penning a heartfelt message that spotlighted how much progress has been made in the industry. She ended her Instagram on an uplifting note.
“Instead of focusing on this blatant ignorance, I couldn’t help but realize the contrast between the state of our business today in comparison to 2012…Today I can say I’ve walked for iconic designers like Marc Jacobs and even landed on pages of American Vogue as none other than myself,” she wrote. “To my sisters, bros and non binary siblings who don’t have the resources to fight back, to change schools, pay for medical care and the support of thousands of followers and who experience cruelty directed at them only because they have the guts to follow their hearts and minds in the hope of an honest, happy life please remember, chin up ALWAYS! Evolution is no stranger to our cause and one day we’ll see revolution.”
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Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the time I’ve been working in this business. I’ve never been the girl to do every campaign or walk every show, but I’m happy that I’ve had some pretty unique moments in this industry – a few of which have challenged the dominant paradigm, outdated views of gender and a few that have even spilled over into pop culture. I woke up to a video yesterday, where a woman by the name of Miroslava Duma said some pretty ugly things about @bryanboycom and me during a conference (scroll right to see). I wont say it wasn’t hurtful. However instead of focusing on this blatant ignorance, I couldn’t help but realize the contrast between the state of our business today in comparison to 2012, the yr of this video. Fashion hasn’t always celebrated, to quote @miraduma “people like us.” Today I can say I’ve walked for iconic designers like @MarcJacobs and even landed on pages of American Vogue as none other than myself. However for a long time I didn’t believe that I was deserving of a firm place in fashion. I remember when I was one of only two people representing a specific “trend” that many people would now place under the title “gender diversity in the fashion space.” Circa 2010 my friend @LeaT and I found International media attention on the one hand and no small amount of ignorance and scorn on the other. Today we are part of a movement of unique talent that is smashing the old categories that once stood and proudly displaying a spectrum of age/color/gender/class. @miraduma ‘s hopes that “this trend fizzles out quickly” have not been realized. I am thankful I got to stick around! I understand that an apology has been issued and I do think people should be given the chance to grow, change, overcome their ignorance. To my little sisters, bros and non binary siblings who don’t have the resources to fight back, to change schools, pay for medical care or the support of thousands of followers and who experience cruelty directed at them only because they have the guts to follow their hearts and minds in the hope of an honest, happy life please remember, chin up ALWAYS! Evolution is no stranger to our cause and one day we’ll see revolution❤️